17From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
- Paul is saying his final goodbye to the elders at Ephesus. He knows that more hardship and prison await him in Jerusalem. And he will never see the faces of these elders again. It was a sad but fond farewell. Somehow in just two brief years an unbreakable bond had been forged between Paul and these new Christians.
- How was this possible? Paul let people know how he lived (v18) by opening up his life and inviting people to see and know the real him. Paul served the Lord with humility (v19) and maintained a close relationship with the Lord. Paul didn’t hesitate to witness for Christ and taught new Christians God’s word (vv20-21). He lived as an example of Christian values in action (vv33-35).
- These qualities combined to foster a bond of love and affection between Paul and the Ephesians. And the same qualities can create bonds of affection among us today, too.
- Who is in your spiritual care? How are you preparing those that you nurture spiritually so that you can leave them with the same confidence?
- What would you want to say to those in your spiritual care if you knew that you were going to die? Take time to express your hope and your love to that person in the near future. Ask God for the courage to say these most important words to those you love and for whom you care deeply.
Family Time (Begin this time by reading the passage above using a children’s Bible.)
Paul obviously had a clear sense of purpose in life. What is it (vv22-24)? What is your life’s purpose? Allow everyone to share. Write them down in your Family Devotional Journal. What training or experience will you need to achieve your life’s goal? Will the family need to make some sacrifices to help you achieve that?
Prayer & Journaling: On your prayer journal, as you listen to God, write down a few thoughts, questions, words, names, drawings, or anything that has come to your mind during this time.
Proverbs for Today 14:15-18
15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. 16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. 17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated. 18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.